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Oakland Police Officers Frustrated By High Crime, Low Morale Enticed By Neighboring Departments

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(CBS) Ryan Takeo
Ryan Takeo joined KPIX 5 in June of 2013 as a General Assignment...
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OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Enticed with better benefits, police departments across the Bay Area are luring Oakland officers fed up with high crime and low morale.

Normally, BART Police Officer Russell Medeiros does more than give directions. He’s on a team of BART officers watching out for terrorists, but he still gets time to talk to passengers.

It’s nothing like his last job of patrolling the streets of Oakland, which was fast-paced and high-stress.

“I worked hard for the city, worked hard for the department, but I just felt as if I was a number,” Medeiros told KPIX 5.

Medeiros said he didn’t feel appreciated and didn’t feel secure in his job, and those issues took a toll.

“The morale is definitely a big issue that carries onto your home life,” he said.

Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando said, “When those officers apply with our agency and get hired here, they’re very used to the call volume.”

Cantando’s department wants veteran officers like Medeiros. The city is trying to lure proven officers with a pension package allowing for a higher percentage return and retirement up to five years earlier.

“The simple fact is, for other agencies, experienced Oakland police officers are a hot commodity,” said Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association.

The police union president said the nonstop adrenaline rush of calls, crime, and criminals make Oakland officers dream recruits. “You have officers here who have experiences in one week that they could never replicate in another agency in a year,” Donelan said.

And over the past four years, Oakland has hemorrhaged 227 officers, that’s a third of its force. They have either retired or switched to another agency, like Medeiros.

The bottom line for Medeiros was his bottom line. He now has better benefits, such as lifelong medical, and he owes a lot of it to the job he left. “I’m grateful of the time I had at Oakland, but I’m definitely much happier moving on,” he said.

BART has the second highest number of former Oakland officers. The San Francisco Police Department tops the list.

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